Dutch Slough Tidal Restoration Project

Dutch Slough 2018

The Dutch Slough Tidal Marsh Restoration Project will transform 1,187 acres of land back into tidal marsh. DWR/ 2018

The Dutch Slough Tidal Marsh Restoration Project is the first major tidal wetlands restoration site in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to be implemented by DWR. The project will transform 1,187 acres of land into tidal marsh to provide habitat for salmon and other native fish and wildlife.


The project is also part of California EcoRestore, an initiative to coordinate and advance at least 30,000 acres of critical habitat restoration in the Delta by 2020.


The project has three main goals:

  • Benefit native species by re-establishing a natural ecological network, especially for Delta species currently in decline

  • Contribute to scientific understanding of ecological restoration in the Delta

  • Provide shoreline access, education, and recreational opportunities


The Dutch Slough Project is located on the west Delta, within Oakley, a city with a population over 40,000 in Contra Costa County. It contains three parcels located on the western edge of the Delta.  


Status update:

Construction on two of the parcels, Emerson and Gilbert, started in May 2018 and was completed late in 2019, followed by revegetation planting starting in late 2019. Restoration of the third parcel, Burroughs, will likely begin in 2022.


How it works:

Dutch Slough currently sits along a high-grade slope, with site elevations ranging from six feet above sea level to six feet below sea level. In May 2018, DWR began smoothing the grade of that slope by excavating soil from higher elevations and moving it to lower elevations. The grading and channel excavation are complete. River Partners was awarded a contract to plant native plants, including about 50,000 tule plugs. Following two years of plant growth, in approximately 2021, DWR will breach the levees, allowing water from the Delta channels to flow in and out with the daily tides. Ultimately the project will reestablish a tidal marsh, creating a rich habitat for fish and wildlife.


Protecting fish:

The Dutch Slough project will be the Delta’s largest restored fresh water tidal marsh. The tidal marsh is designed to create conditions that will favor native aquatic species over non-native fishes such as largemouth bass. Young salmon will be able to hide from predators in the marsh at high tide. Scientists expect that the tidal marsh will provide rearing habitat where the young salmon can grow strong before they journey to the ocean, boosting their survival rates.

Preserving land:

The Dutch Slough project preserves Native American heritage sites and protects one of the last remaining vineyards growing in a Delta sand dune. The vineyard is close to a century old.


Creating recreation and education:

Fifty-five acres of the south-central portion of Dutch Slough will be developed by the City of Oakley into a community park. The restoration project will enhance park amenities by including biking and walking trails, plus shoreline and fishing access. It will also feature interpretive signs to educate visiting school and community groups about Dutch Slough’s human history and marsh ecosystems.


The Dutch Slough project began in 2003, when DWR bought the property for $28 million. Before that, Contra Costa County planned to convert the pasture land – home to cattle grazing and dairy operations – into a housing development. The project is 17 years in the making, following a long approval process by a variety of federal, state and local agencies.

Project Partners:
The Dutch Slough Tidal Marsh Restoration Project is part of the DWR Delta Levees Program, which funds levee improvements and projects that preserve and restore habitats in the Delta.  It is also a part of the State Ecosystem Restoration Program, a multi-agency endeavor to enhance ecological function across the greater Delta. 

Dutch Slough has been supported and/or funded by: